How Bogie Got the Part; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Daily Mail (London), January 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

How Bogie Got the Part; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS


Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION

Did author Raymond Chandler and film star Humphrey Bogart ever meet?

CHANDLER and Bogart met many times around the time of the filming of Chandler's novel The Big Sleep, when the author was on set on several occasions.

For the 1946 film, Howard Hawks cast Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the lead roles: they were great actors and hot news as they had recently married. They had met on the set of another of Hawks's films, 1944's To Have And Have Not, and were smitten with each other.

That was Bacall's first film, and she was possibly the first and only actress to share top billing in her first feature. In it, the pair have a very funny scene in which they wind up a policeman on the phone, which Chandler thought was a hoot.

Chandler was an interesting character.

Born in 1888 in America to an Irish mother (Florence Thornton was from Waterford city) and Philadelphia Quaker father, his family moved to London in 1900, where he studied at the public school, Dulwich College, whose alumni included P G Wodehouse and C S Forester.

Returning to the US, he eked out a living writing pulp fiction before his novel The Big Sleep was published in 1939.

The film was Bogie's second outing as a gumshoe detective, having played Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon in 1941. Chandler would meet up with him at weekends during filming, ostensibly for social drinking and general carousing - which Bogie excelled at - but he was also checking the movie star out to see if he had the makings of a good Philip Marlowe.

Chandler saw something unique in Bogie which he knew fitted Marlowe's persona. He also liked the the studio publicity department's nickname for Bogie, 'The Merchant of Menace', which he thought suited Marlowe's character.

Chandler famously remarked: 'No other actor looks as convincing on screen with a gun as Bogart.' In a letter to his UK publisher, Hamish Hamilton, he wrote: 'When you see The Big Sleep, you will see what can be done with this kind of story by a director with the gift of atmosphere and the requisite touch of hidden sadism.' During shooting, Chandler told Hawks he was impressed and said that Bogie was 'the genuine article'. Another glowing testimonial he gave Bogie was: 'Bogart can be tough without a gun, also he has a sense of humour that contains that grating undertone of contempt. Alan Ladd is hard, bitter and occasionally charming, but he is, after all, a small boy's idea of a tough guy. Bogart is the genuine article.' Danny D'Arcy, Reading, Berkshire.

QUESTION

UTV Mystery Dramas are sponsored by Viking River Cruises. In one of their adverts, a boat passes a magnificent castle perched on a hill. Where is it?

THE Viking team has confirmed that the castle is Stahleck Castle on the Rhine in Germany. It can be seen on the Viking Rhine Discovery itinerary, an eight-day cruise from Amsterdam to Basel.

Leah Pummell, Edelman, London SW1.

TWELFTH-Century Stahleck Castle (Burg Stahleck) stands on a crag above the town of Bacharach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, 50km south of Koblenz.

Its name means 'impregnable castle on a crag', from the Middle High German words Stahel (steel) and Ecke (crag). The castle is variously said to have been built, in 1135, by wealthy knight Goswin von Stahleck or somewhat earlier by the Archbishops of Cologne, then handed over to Konrad of Hohenstaufen (1135-1195) by his brother Frederick I Barbarossa (1123-90), who made him first Count Palantine.

Konrad's daughter Agnes (1176-1204) inherited the castle. She married England's Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1173-1227); this is because he was the son of Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria (1126-95) and Henry II of England's daughter Matilda (1156-89).

The history of Stahleck Castle is relatively quiet until the 17th Century. …

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